Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bitsy Rant: Xander and the Duckie Effect


Warning: This post contains spoilers for Buffy Season Eight Issue # 28

In 1986, John Cryer played the character who would define his career. To his parents he was Phil Dale, but to the annals of history he will always be Duckie. The film, of course, was Pretty in Pink, and the plight of Duckie's unrequited feelings for Andie Walsh (as played by John Hughes' it girl, Molly Ringwald) would become a point of contention for nerd boys for generations to come. What was originally intended to be a film about the effect of economic class structure on the hierarchy of high school students ultimately was boiled down to "Damn that dress she wore at the end was repulsive" and, more importantly "Why didn't she choose Duckie?"

I have always thought of Xander as being Buffy's Duckie. He's nerdy, self deprecating, says things addressed solely to himself, dresses funny, and is, frankly, kind of a douche when he doesn't get his way. I'm not sure if this makes Willow Annie Potts (although I now kind of want to see Alyson Hannigan play a Ghostbuster for some reason) but there's no doubt that Xander is profoundly Duckie-esque, especially in the early seasons. Just like Duckie, many geeky guys have long bemoaned the fact that a relationship between Xander and Buffy never took place. Wait... now I'm picturing Andrew McCarthy playing Angel and it... no. Doesn't work. Moving on.

So here's the thing: Andie shouldn't be with Duckie and Buffy, in turn, shouldn't be with Xander. Horrendous accusations, Batman! I know, I know. Nerd-core dudes everywhere, just chill a minute and let me explain. The reason Andie and Duckie didn't wind up together is because, and keep this between us because it's a super secret, she didn't have any interest in being with him. That's it. Simple, no? Sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don't. Andie never got the warm fuzzies when she thought about Duckie and that's okay. Sometimes the cute, funny guy who moons over you is just a friend. It's tough when you're smitten but, if you really care about someone, want to be a part of their life, then you take the friendship and value the person for the place in your life that they fill.


I could totally see Xander doing this



For seven seasons Xander did exactly that. Not once did Buffy ever show even the most remote of passing interests in him and, though I think he always held onto the crush, Xander moved on to greener pastures and accepted Buffy as being exactly what she was: a fantastic, life saving friend. No more, no less. Oh, sure, he'd occasionally try and get her boyfriends killed but that was just... because... he's a complete toolbox. But so is Duckie because he's always being pissy pants about Andie not loving him and all dragging Annie Potts around even though everybody knows he's crazy not to jump Annie Potts' bones because, dude, she's Annie Potts! But I digress.

Sudden romantic feelings developing between Xander and Buffy are an insult to platonic friendships between men and women everywhere. It says that Xander really was only waiting to score and never really cared all that much about his friendship with Buffy. It also means that his three dead ex girlfriends were all just stand ins for Buffy. Now, I'm cool with that because I think Xander is just that much of a box of Summer's Eve but anyone who actually likes Xander should hate this development.

It should also annoy any woman who knows what it's like to have a dude who just won't take no for an answer. Suddenly having Buffy interested in Xander is like telling comic book nerds everywhere "Hey, keep harassing that chick to be with you because, eventually, when her life is completely in ruins, she'll give in". Does that sound awesome town to you? It sounds like last stop Frown Town, everybody off, no refunds to me.

In short: a Buffy/Xander romance makes zero canonical sense and is an affront to the sensibilities of 80's kids everywhere. That's like messing with the Goonies and, when you do that, those kids make you slip, crush your own balls on a slippery log of wood, get beaten up by your own kind of retarded, monster brother, get arrested, and miss out on all of One Eyed Willy's awesome pirate treasure. Nobody wants that. Nobody. Because pirate treasure is awesome.

the end.


14 comments:

InyRules said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I'd write more on why I agree with you and how awesome this post it, but I have mounting things at work to do. I will later though.

InyRules said...

Now that I have a break from work, I can elaborate on why I agree with you.

Sure, Xander initially had a crush on Buffy. He tired, he failed. And sure, he had some lingering feelings for Buffy while he was with Cordelia is season 2, but by season 3, he had moved on from it (to Willow!). He did the dirty with Faith, then he met Anya. While many didn't particularly like Anya, it was obvious that she deeply loved Xander, and Xander reciprocated her feelings. (Then he crushed her in season 6. Damn you season 6!). I feel that if Xander were to still be hung up on Buffy in season eight, it would cheapen all his previous relationships. I wouldn't be able to watch the show without thinking "Who cares what happens with Anya, he really wants Buffy anyway."

In turn, Buffy, as you stated, never showed an ounce of romantic feelings for Xander in those seven seasons on television, apart from being under the love spell. Xander was her buddy, her friend. She cherished her friendship with him as much as she did with Willow's. To me, any kind of romantic feelings Buffy has for Xander in season eight are completely out of left field. Hell, Buffy dipping her toe in the lesbian pool was more believable to me than romantic-Xander feelings. Her apparent feelings for him in this season feels like the editors/writers are saying "Hey, it's natural for her to fall for him now, he's the only man in her current vicinity." It's the "last man on earth" kind of deal.

Michael (mbatz) said...

I agree, however, per issue 28, isn't Xander with the Dawnster???

Bitsy said...

True, Mike, but the subtext is that Buffy isn't just upset about the Xander/Dawn development in a "hey, that's my sister!" kind of way. Scott Allie confirmed it during his last Q&A with Slay Alive and there's been not so subtle hints for a while now that Xander is still into Buffy during season eight which basically makes it seem like he's just being with Dawn because, hey, at least she's a Summers girl. I hate that as much as anything else. The whole thing is just an ick fest.

Dalton said...

I'd love to read this post, but I haven't read season 8 yet. But since I already glanced at Bitsy's post (just barely in fragments), I'll comment. If Xander gets with either Dawn or Buffy, I'll be very very pissed. It's like when that idiot Chris Carter, despite saying he'd never do it, made Mulder and Scully's relationship romantic. A Xander/Buffy/Dawn lovefest is borderline incestuous. It's just not right and is very counterintuitive. I'm definitely going to have to read season 8 soon to see what the hell is going on. As I see it, this is the problem with continuing a series ad infinitum. Writers start to stretch for ideas, and a subsequent warping of core material begins to occur. Next thing you know, the series is ruined. Happend to The X-Files, and it can happen to Buffy. Bog forbid. All this desperation for new material, in my opinion, began with the idiotic Potential Slayers, and now this? Damn it, anyway....

adair said...

I so agree with your comment and what everyone else said. A Buffy/Xander relationship makes no sense. Neither does a Xander/Dawn relationship. I like Xander, I really do, but as someone who has been in a similiar situation (no I'm not a life saving friend - but I have had the dorky guys go from crushing on me to being my best friends when they realized it was never gonna happen) I know that this would never happen! And as far as the Dawn relationship, ok I haven't read that far into season 8 yet but I had a feeling it was going to happen. I always felt like Xander saw her as a little sister and the fact that he used to babysit her makes it that much more wrong. For some reason it's putting thoughts of Tom Cruise & Katie in my mind.. maybe you have a crush on an adult as a child, but once you are grown up it is just icky to think about.. as is this story line. YUCK.

InyRules said...

Also been confirmed that Buffy has developed feelings for Xander by Scott and Georges Jeanty. I really don't get it...

heroine_tv said...

While my dislike of Xander and love for Duckie make me a bit hesitant to compare the two, I agree with your larger argument.

Especially: "Sudden romantic feelings developing between Xander and Buffy are an insult to platonic friendships between men and women everywhere." It is so annoying that there always has to be romantic tension to every opposite sex relationship--so dumb.

I also really liked this point: "Suddenly having Buffy interested in Xander is like telling comic book nerds everywhere 'Hey, keep harassing that chick to be with you because, eventually, when her life is completely in ruins, she'll give in'" Agreed. No means no. Girls don't like stalkers, despite the pop culture evidence to the contrary ;)

Michael said...

Come on peeps...the age diff between Dawn and Xander is not that off. What's the acceptable norm ...half one's age plus 7, I think. Also the X man hasn't been that dork guy in a long long time. How many utter nerd construction foreman do you know?...or Nick Fury type army leaders for that matter. Geek is Andrew's realm these days. Frankly, I find it a little surprising that Xander and Buff haven't at least stumbled or bumbled into sleeping with each other once or twice. You know the adage about not seeing what's right in front of you etc.I mean it's way way weirder that she changed teams for a minute...character wise. And no surprise with Xander and Dawny...she's hot:) and always crushed on the X man.

Michael said...

Also, despite what girls may think and guys may try to hide, I'm of the opinion that 99% of straight men who are friends with straight pretty girls are always secretly or overtly harboring romantic feelings for said girl. Lots of guys I know use the friend angle hoping it will turn into more. And all or most said guys will say "we're just friends". yeah, right. Even if the guy knows it's not possible, the friend thing is a way to stay near said girl. I've been there myself. Modern "evolved" sensibilities have not changed this imo. It's just hiddened betr:)

Michael said...

One more thing, I just don't get why it's hard for people to get Buff having feelings for Xander. Doesn't mean that she always had them or that he might of always been in love with her. Shit happens. Some times you just see people in a different light. Happens all the time. Hell, it happened with Spike and Buffy...think Buff saw that coming when she was trying to kill him in season 2. Or like the moment Spike realized he had feelings for Buff, his most hated arch nemesisisis (heh).

Natalia said...

I disagree that X/D is icky - as some have pointed out the age difference is not that big, and for him to "see the woman in her" once she does become a (young) woman is nothing that weird. Plus, this storyline has been developing over the whole S8, with the two of them sharing moments and having good conversations and alltogether connecting. I get it.

But X/B?? That's just a mess. If the writers are showing Xander acting on his feelings for Dawn, why the heck would they do that ambiguious holding hands-googly eyes scene? Just to mislead the reader? Whatever happened to consistency?? As for Buffy... The way I can explain this fluke to myself is this: girl feels lonely, girl shares a moment, girl's friend makes a typical girly note, girl convinces herself she has feelings for the only guy around.

What are the hints on X/B that some of you have mentioned? I saw X/D coming looong time ago, but totally missed on anything X/B-related.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michael. Relationships evolve and change over time. Xander got over his thing for Buffy a long time ago but who's to say it couldn't be reignited? I really don't think it's that big of a leap.

Also really sick of hearing the Xander/Dawn age difference gripes. It's not a big difference or a big deal at all.

Bitsy's still dreamy though. Just sayin.

Sarah said...

I'm really hoping that the dismay we saw on the Buffster's face when she spied X/D kissing is going to lead to good things. Not Xander/Buffy things, but introspective, "why was I suddenly crushing on Xander? oh because I'm an emotionally unavailable ice queen who was never really close with any of my boyfriends and I mistook friendship intimacy for romantic intimacy because I'm disfunctional like that, but now I see I really love Xander as a friend, and when ____(fill in your preferred exes name here) comes around again I will be ready to act like an adult and open up! Gee, glad I never made a move on Xander, how embarrassing." (Cue flashback to the season 2 sexy dance--shudder.)
But then, I'm realistic and clearly those writing season 8 are...not always.